It would be simple, perhaps, to answer in “calendar time.” I made it in a week, or it took six months, or I worked on it for years. But with several quilts in progress all of the time and pieces overlapping (or “resting”), this is not a very accurate measure of the work involved.
Years ago, in an effort to answer this question and to make the point to a group of non-quilters, I used this analogy: “I quilt an average of ten stitches to the inch and I used a little over two and a half spools of thread in this quilt. There are 250 yards of thread on a spool so that would be about 700 yards of thread in this quilt. If you want to consider how long that would take....imagine quilting ten stitches every inch, along the full length of a football field, seven times.”
Or.......Even more interesting and perhaps more obsessive.......how many stitches are in the quilt? Again beginning with the figure of ten stitches to the inch and considering a few inches lost in knot and tails, a reasonable figure would be ten times 30 inches or 300 stitches made from each yard of thread. I know that I put between two and five spools of thread into my large quilts; let’s take an average of three spools, times 250 yards or 750 yards of thread. Multiplying the 750 yards times 300 stitches per yard will give us the grand total of 225,000 stitches per quilt. Nearly a quarter million!
Multiply that times the number of quilts that have been made by you, by your friends, by quilters around the world....The answers will be staggering!
I’ve heard it suggested that the time it takes to finish a quilt should be measured from the time one first learned how to quilt. Every quilt teaches us something, develops a new skill, a fresh approach, a better appreciation for this art we love. And this new quilt is the culmination of all that we know right now.
How long did it take? Any way you measure it, it’s long, it’s wonderful and it’s worth it.
The Shackelford Family Album Quilt
Original design, hand appliqued, and hand quilted